Bega shares hit record high

BEGA Cheese shares have surged to a record high price on the back of the company’s strong half-year financial results released last week.

Shares in the New South Wales processor hit a new high of $5.46 yesterday before closing the day at $5.43, up four cents on Friday’s record close. 

The day’s trading saw 385,000 shares change hands. Daily trading volume has averaged more than half a million shares across the past five days.

The share price has now lifted about $1 since Bega bailed out of the three-way battle for control of Warrnambool Cheese and Butter (WCB) in December, defying pundits who said the price would fall once the heat of the takeover battle was removed.

Bega posted an 18 per cent jump in its half-year profit to $18.7 million. The result does not include the $98.9 million collected when Bega sold its 18.8 per cent stake in WCB to Saputo for $9.40 per share.

That sale is expected to yield an after-tax profit of $44 million in Bega’s second-half accounts.

In releasing the half-year results last week, executive chairman Barry Irvin said the company was considering a number of growth opportunities for the short and medium terms.

Bega owns two factories in its home town, as well at Tatura in the Goulburn Valley and a plant in Coburg. About 15 per cent of its milk supply is sourced from the south-west.

Meanwhile, the WCB share price settled back to $8.70 at yesterday’s close of trading, 70 cents below what Saputo paid to gain control of the company. 

Yesterday’s trading saw shares trade to a high of $8.75 and a low of $8.50.

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